POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Political strategists analyze New Jersey, national midterm results

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Fifty years after Luis Bastidas came from Ecuador, there’s no doubt what motivated his vote Tuesday.

“We have to fight with our president right now because of too much blah, blah, blah and there’s no respect for nobody. We need respect,” he said.

It’s a reflection of exit poll results. President Donald Trump loomed large in Democrats’ success in New Jersey’s traditionally red congressional districts.

“Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving here in New Jersey,” said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky.

At the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a panel called “The Morning After” analyzed the midterm results.

“He is not the gift that keeps on giving to Democrats around the country, however. I was a little despondent yesterday in looking at the numbers across the country because to me it’s just a bifurcation between what we on the coast think and feel and what people across the country feel. I’ve never, I’m 45 years old, I’ve never in my life seen a country so divided. It seems to me that we’re not even debating the same issues any more. We’re not even talking the same language,” Roginsky said.

Analysts hope that will change as the House will have nearly 100 women for the first time.

“There has been a lot of talk about the year of the woman, which is a label that I loathe. It makes women seem like a novelty. It makes them seem like the other,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics.

“On a state level, it was a blood bath for Republicans, and people shouldn’t pretend otherwise,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist.

But DuHaime says nationally Republicans increasing their majority and numbers in the U.S. Senate — potentially to 55 — is a major feat.

“Nobody should discount that. That normally doesn’t happen in a midterm. The map was very much in favor. There were a lot of those Democrats in those rectangular states in the middle of the country and Trump is very popular there. He put those states on the map. We didn’t win those under George W. Bush, or when John McCain, or Mitt Romney were running, but they did win while Donald Trump was president. I think you have to give some credit there. He knows what buttons to push,” DuHaime said.

With New Jersey Democrats scoring major victories in congressional races and adding to the majority they’ll have now in the House starting in January, what does it mean in terms of working with this president and getting things done?

“Now, he’s actually going to have his Democratic House to blame for things. This will make him happy,” said reporter Herb Jackson.

House Democrats already are talking about using their majority to pursue the president’s tax returns. He’s warning them that will produce the kind of Washington gridlock both parties blame the other for creating.